Funky Fashion, On View Through May 12, 2019
What do we mean by “funky”? In the context of this exhibition, funky is the unconventional, unexpected, weird, and somewhat ugly, yet appealing. Creative and innovative treatments of cloth, trims, hairstyling, and make-up, all of which affect a person’s dress, have been applied to bodies and clothing throughout the centuries.
Ancient Greek women wore elaborately curled hairstyles atop their simply wrapped togas and sandals. In the eighteenth-century, French women wore enormously high “coiffures” on their heads named after Jeanne-Antionette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour (1721-1764), mistress of Louis XV from 1745-50. They counterbalanced the height with wide “panniers” under their skirts which extended out to the sides of their hips. These looks could certainly be called “funky” by today’s standards.
In the nineteenth-century, garments were still being sewed by hand. The sewing machine was invented in the 1840s and became available by mail-order from Singer. However, many couture garments continued to be made by hand. Trims and buttons were applied to highlight details of the fabric, construction of a bodice or the drape of a skirt, for example. One can see this kind of careful handwork in the velvet jacket in this exhibition.
Today the funky look can be found in the New York City windows of Missoni and in the neighboring shops on Madison Avenue. Haute Couture designers explore the funky side by mixing shapes and patterns and by utilizing surprising colors. They incorporate different textures and stitching techniques to add interest to a garment. Dolce & Gabbana created extremely elaborate gowns using corsets on the outside.
A recent exhibition at the Met by Rei Kawakubo, designer for Comme des Garçons, included questionably shaped garments whose wearer could only be imagined.
On the streets of New York, one might also see the funkiest of accessories: spike heels, silver high-top sneakers, and sparkling paste jewels. Within the RJD’s walls, we explore felt hats embellished with feathers and impractically wide brims. A sense of whimsy can be seen in a purse, shaped like a hen. Imagination and creativity join to stretch the limits of design possibilities.
Funky fashion demands that visitors adjust their preconceptions about clothing.
~Blair Walker, Curator and Manager of Collections